|14 sai no Haha [１４歳の母]|
Great acting [Rating: 7/10]
What excellent acting from the young Shida Mirai, well supported by the adult cast and equally brilliant acting from little Koshimizu Kazuki. I can't say the same about Miura Haruma though - I can't tell if the woodiness comes from the actor or the character. While the acting in this drama is on the whole, very good, the plot and storyline is markedly flawed. There is not enough chemistry and a love story between the two young 'lovers' for it to be remotely believable that they would have slept together and created a baby out of 'love'. It looks to me more as if they were two stupid teenagers drawn together one fateful night and made a huge mistake, and then trying to gloss over it by being brave. While it is admirable of a 14-year old to take responsibility for her actions, it is difficult to believe that a 14-year old would have that maturity to do so. The show focuses too much on the fact that a 14-year old wants to give birth - and defends her decision by giving sentimental reasons - but what about the lifelong responsibility that comes with bringing a child to this world? Irritatingly enough, once Ichinose Miki opens her mouth and delivers her speech, everyone starts tearing up and gormlessly follows her wishes like puppets to a string.
It's not all bad - there are some heart-wrenching scenes when one really feels like rooting for Miki, love the OST, but the 7 is really for the acting.
|[email protected] [アキハバラ＠DEEP]|
Quirky! [Rating: 9/10]
It's strange, weird, over-the-top, heartfelt and full of laugh-out-loud comedy moments; what's not to like about it? The chemistry between the 6 members of [email protected] is excellent; Kitamura Kazuki is weird, creepy, childish and mad all-in-one. I've never been to Akihabara but I felt I could experience the city's character from this show. The only criticism is that it sometimes overdid the over-the-top (which can be annoying).
|Attention Please [アテンションン プリース]|
Saved by the Supporting Cast [Rating: 4/10]
I have never watched Ueto in action, and after this drama, I swear I will never again watch any of her dramas. Her over-acting is unfunny and any attempt to be cute/funny/punk is just ridiculous and annoying. The first few episodes had little to show except to portray Ueto as the most annoying git ever, and the ending was predictable. The only thing that saved it - and made me gave it a 4 - was Maya Miki's impressive acting, and the strength of the rest of the supporting cast who overall did an excellent job (except Nishikido Ryo who looked stoned the whole time).
|Binbo Danshi [貧乏男子 (ボンビーメン)]|
Good acting but poor storyline [Rating: 5/10]
Oguri Shun exaggerates a little too much as Koyama Kazumi; Yamada Yuu is solid as Nakahara Mimi; Yashima Norito provides some good laughs as Hikita Shouzo; Miura Haruma is excellent as Shiraishi Ryo; Yusuke Santamaria is quirky as the unpredictable Omu-Omu; the chemistry between the actors is fantastic but the plot is a real let-down. How Koyama accrues his debts and then works to pay it off is a bit unrealistic; there is no meaning to the 'love story' between Shiraishi and Sumire; and the marriage at the end is totally unnecessary. There are some powerful scenes in this drama especially that exchange between Shirashi and Koyama in episode 6, but that's not enough to save it. The main message is that connecting to people and the heart is more important than money, which in the ideal world should hold true. But realistically it is difficult to achieve, and if there is anyone in this world who lives like Koyama Kazumi, God help them.
|Bloody Monday [ブラッディ・マンデイ]|
Worth a Watch... Maybe [Rating: 7/10]
To put things straight: I watched this for Miura Haruma. Fortunately, his performance as the genius hacker Takagi Fujimaru does not disappoint. The supporting cast excel in their respective roles; Kichise Michiko deserves mention as the sexy, manipulative and devious Orihara Maya. Narimiya Hiroki served his role as the playful trickster and math genius J well, and Matsushige Yutaka was effective as Kano. I loved the different use of camera angles and the soundtrack.
However, it's the plot that is somewhat a letdown. It tries too hard to make things seem as they are not to keep the suspense, and culminates in an anti-climax. Third-I agents appear to be so easily tricked and manipulated it's difficult to think they are the elite of Japan's Public Safety Division; I would hate to put my life in their inept hands. The terrorists are so caught up in crossing and double-crossing each other that they themselves lose the plot, and Fujii Mina's character Asada Aoi serves no purpose other than to become Fujimaru's liability - of which he already has many. Plus I cannot forgive one very major bungling error (translation may be wrong, but I trust TimeLes) - people don't go chopping off other people's limbs when a needlestick injury occurs.
That said, I still kind of enjoyed watching Third-I get themselves in the mess they shouldn't have got themselves in in the first place and the terrorist group disintegrating towards the end - so that of course, the good guys can win. There is still some element of suspense and the major 'plot twist' at the end - if you still cared about the plot.
|Bloody Monday Season 2 [ブラッディ・マンデイ-シーズン2-]|
Average [Rating: 6/10]
Falcon returns to 'Save the Earth' with his hacking skills, but we've seen everything he can do in the first season. Hardly anything changes with Fujimaru Takagi; there is an attempt to make it seem as if he has been wholly affected by the incidents of the past (first season) but nothing has really changed with his character. Pitted against 'Spider', Falcon must use all his magic to do what he does best, but we don't find out like we did in the first season to what extent Falcon's hacking capabilities are, because it's all just glossed over in the end. Spoiler? Falcon wins, obviously, but we never find out how. I always love Miura Haruma's acting but he overdoes it it here with the screwed up faces and tears.
The main storyline is as interesting as always, but the subplots are very much less so. Kawashima Umika's Takagi Haruka runs around unsupervised around Tokyo with her so-called boyfriend God-knows doing what but contributing very little to the main story; Narimiya Hiroki is underused as the sinister J who drops hints that he knows what's going on but in the end just suffers from sister-complex. Satoh Takeru's Kujoh Otoya plays a main role in the development of the story but becomes redundant in the end.
There are some shockers and interesting twists; the first episode was a blast, and I quite liked the emotional and psychological aspects of Spider's sob-story, but it's not really enough to want to recommend this drama to anyone.
|Buzzer Beat ~ Gakeppuchi no Hero [ブザー・ビート]|
Typical love story [Rating: 6/10]
A typical romantic story full of cliches, unlucky coincidences, eavesdropped conversations, accidental spying, cheesy lines, and of course, running around. Yamashita Tomohisa is bland as the hero of the show; Kitagawa Keiko's voice and acting are annoying and there is zero romantic chemistry between the two, though as good friends they are quite cute together. What annoys me more is Kitagawa's character who so easily throws away the dream she worked so hard for, just for the sake of a guy. The real stars of the show are Aibu Saki as the bitchy ex and Kanjiya Shihori as the best friend. I found the romantic subplot between Mai (Kanjiya) and Shuji (Mizubata Junpei) more interesting and endearing than that between the two mains.
In its terribly complicated love triangle all spurned lovers, ex-es and people with unrequited love end up happy or happier; either with glad acceptance of reality or finding new love, which is too 'neat'. The last sequence of the story was totally ridiculous. No stadium goes completely silent at a freethrow attempt and there is a time limit for doing these things. Even knowing that the producers put it in for dramatic impact doesn't make it less silly. I could go on more about the strange and unnecessary appearance of the white conductor and random English phrases, but let's not even go there.
Let's end on a positive note though: good soundtrack, though I don't care much for B'z's opening (not a B'z fan).
|Code Blue: Doctor Heli Kinkyu Kyumei [コード・ブルー]|
Lacking [Rating: 7/10]
I had high hopes for this drama as a suspenseful medical drama, but it brought me back down to earth. There was little character development; if Yamapi's Aizawa Kousaku was meant to be the cool doctor, it became instead unexciting, unmemorable and downright boring. Shiraishi (Aragaki Yui) is an overemotional walking, talking medical encyclopaedia, but a slight change to become a braver and more determined person saves her character. As for the other 2 'leads', Hiyama and Fujikawa - what do they actually DO? This show instead belongs to the veteran flight doctors, especially Kuroda, who without him, the show will be an utter waste of time. Another saving grace would perhaps be the realistic medical scenes; sure beats Iryu!
|Dragon Zakura [ドラゴン桜]|
Average [Rating: 6/10]
I thought that this drama reflected how much emphasis Japan places on education. Unfortunately, I can't agree less with the way this drama has made it seem that getting into Tokyo Uni is the key to everyone's success. And the fact that they just want to get into the uni, never mind what course they're going to study and whether they will like it or not, gets a thumbs down from me. Thumbs up though, for the creative studying techniques employed.
I found Hiroshi Abe's character to be a cross between GTO and Gokusen. He acted the character well, but I do not like the character himself. Half the time I did not agree with his speeches, and the other half I had no idea what he was trying to preach about. Hasegawa Kyoko's character is very much like Yamaguchi Kumiko of Gokusen in the sense that she loves her students too much, but minus the kick-ass attitude. The six students acted well though I found Yamapi to be a bit of a bore. Saeko and Koike were my favourites because of their energy and cheer. I hated the rest of the annoying teachers and the irritating Principal; they were probably put in for comedy but their antics were a big turn off.
I actually thought the ending was good because it was realistic. And although the final speech contrasted to the whole idea of 'Todai = success', I appreciated that they emphasized too that life isn't all about studying, and that other options are available.
Worth Watching [Rating: 8/10]
The first episode hit me, and hit me hard. I would've almost wanted to give it a ten if I had rated this based on the first episode. There was chemistry between the two leads, comedic bits, and clever crime fiction always makes it on my list. However, after ten episodes of the same plot pattern and same one-liners, I had to drop my score. One can get too much of the Yukawa Sudden Inspiration sequence, and one definitely gets an overdose of Utsumi's (Shibasaki Kou) annoying voice and manner.
It's definitely something worth watching, but I wouldn't watch it again.
|Gokusen Season 3 [ごくせん 3]|
Same old Gokusen [Rating: 7/10]
I started this series with low expectations and an indifferent attitude, but I was thoroughly surprised by its quality. It's so difficult to not compare it with its predecessors, but inevitably it will be (compared). Sure, there's nothing different about its storyline, plot, running gags or characters; it's a total re-hash of Season 1 and 2 yet there is something about it that makes it rather interesting.
While Takaki Yuya is poorly cast as the lead character Ogata Yamato, Miura Haruma shines in his role as Kazama Ren. To be fair, there was little Takaki could do with a character like Ogata (reminiscent of Kamenashi Kazuya's Odagiri Ryu in S2) who is really the cool, silent type, and that leaves Miura to really work Kazama. Miura's acting was impressive; many times it felt as if he were the main character. The supporting cast of 3D was fairly good although sometimes they looked more in pain when they were trying to put on their fierce 'delinquent' expressions; cute. The teachers however were thoroughly annoying and pretty pointless except to make derogatory comments about 3D to make them the big, bad class.
This season has a great deal more action than the previous seasons; Yankumi doesn't seem to hold back any longer beating up the bad guys. Though it gets a bit tiring after 10 episodes of the same cycle of watching her students get beat and her making a grand appearance to save the day and make a short speech about life and friends.
I believe with all sequels, one has to watch it without comparing it to the previous seasons, hard as it may seem. Watch this carelessly, don't go too much into detail, just enjoy the fun ride while it lasts - and it is fun, it's Gokusen after all.
(As a side note: the Johnny's boys are taking over Gokusen.)
|Hachimitsu to Kuroba [ハチミツとクローバー]|
Droopy [Rating: 6/10]
This is my first experience with Honey and Clover. I have never watched the anime, the movie, or read the manga.
I enjoyed the chemistry between Nomiya, Takemoto, Yamada and Mayama. Hagumi was like an outsider looking in most of the time. I wonder if it was the acting, or the script or the direction, but she just didn't fit into the group of friends. Apart from that, it was really the bond and banter between friends that kept the series going for the first few episodes. Things started to slow down in the middle and I felt that many scenes were totally pointless. The love triangles were mundane and went stagnant towards the end of the story. Especially in Yamada's case; I was wondering when she'd be smart enough to let go of her unrequited love and learn to recognize the one in front of her eyes.
This is my first time watching Ikuta Toma, and I did enjoy his portrayal as Takemoto Yuta. However, Narimiya Hiroki stole the show with his outstanding performance as the genius Nomiya. Narimiya himself is a genius, at acting. I watched Narumi Riko in 1 Litre of Tears, and compared to that, her acting in Honey and Clover is mediocre and colourless.
I liked the ending song, Canvas by Hirai Ken, and its piano version. I wasn't thoroughly impressed, however, by the soundtrack as a whole.
Overall, it's watchable, but has little re-watch value.
|Hanazakari no Kimitachi e [花ざかりの君たちへ]|
Brilliant start, boring ending [Rating: 7/10]
I have never read the manga before so I can't even begin to compare it with it. Ikuta Toma is the real star of the show with the energy and exuberance he brings to the show; Nakatsu monologues are perhaps the best part of the show. Sano Izumi (Oguri Shun) is brooding and boring and is hardly appealing as the main male lead of the show. While Horikita Maki is a great actress, her character Ashiya Mizuki is just so nosy and plods on trying to get Sano to jump again with such selfish determination it is just hard to watch. It is also disappointing to see Kimura Ryo in yet another pretty-boy homo-type role. The show started off with a bang; full of comedic moments and laughter, but it kind of loses steam towards the end and the last episode was a total drag. The way Ashiya shows her true feelings so easily in front of Sano despite pretending being a boy also makes it rather unbelievable, plus the fact that there is little chemistry between the two. And while the tagline is 'Ikemen Paradise', don't be fooled... A solid 7 for Ikuta's excellent acting and the good amount of silliness and fun only for the first part of the show.
|Hotaru no Hikari [ホタルノヒカリ]|
Recommended! [Rating: 10/10]
As somewhat a himono-onna myself, this drama really touched my heartstrings. After watching this, it gives me confidence that even a person like me may find someone.
I loved the underlying theme of the story - that the person you truly love is the person you feel most comfortable with. In any relationship, I think being able to understand each other is one of the most important aspects, and I loved how this drama was able to portray that so subtlely in Hotaru and Buchou's relationship. I think what really made the love triangle between Hotaru, Buchou and Teshima successful was the chemistry between the actors. There was just so much of it in the banter between Manager and Junior, chemistry that was very lacking in the careful relationship between Teshima and Hotaru. Was it the acting, the direction or the script? Whatever it is, it really works, and that's the driving force behind this drama.
This has definitely become one of my favourite dramas of all time. It's been a while since I watched something I loved so much. It's excellent, and one should definitely watch and enjoy it.
|Ichi Ritoru no Namida [１リットルの涙]|
Good drama [Rating: 8/10]
Good, but not the best, in my opinion. Firstly - some elements of the storyline I find annoying - the constant eavesdropping on conversations to find out things (one episode had particularly many instances of it); the whole 'being there by coincidence' thing (and coincidentally then eavesdropping); Japan's apparent abundance of suffers of this rare disease; and the hospital scenarios which weren't really very realistic (I work in a hospital).
But someone has told me not to be so realistic. This, after all, is a dramatization.
Sawajiri Erika was astouding as the disabled Aya. It must have been both physically and mentally exhausting to play such a character, and she pulled it off marvelously. Nishikido Ryou, however, was a disappointment. Having watched him in other dramas, all I can say is that he can only project several emotions on his otherwise impassive face - smiley, sulky and teary. I loved Yakushimaru Hiroko's portrayal of the strong, positive, loving mother.
The character that appealed to me the most was Narumi Riko's Ako, but unfortunately the character's growth was stunted towards the end, as were the development of all the other characters apart from Aya. I felt that there could have been more done about the family, who were the key supporters to Aya. (They didn't even visit the grave with their parents at the end of episode 11. How dare they.)
The soundtrack is a great one to listen to; I do believe it's shot Remioromen to fame with Konayuki and Sangatsu Kokonoka.
I rate this an 8 mostly because I have several issues with the story and with Nishikido's acting, but I'd recommend this to anyone who loves a good tearjerker.
|Iryu [医龍 Team Medical Dragon]|
Disappointing... [Rating: 5/10]
After hearing comments about how great this drama is, I expected something more. Unfortunately, I was greatly disappointed. It's a classic story of good versus evil: passionate, good doctors versus evil, manipulative, power-hungry ones. It is difficult to think that doctors aren't treating patients because they want to help them, but choosing their patients so that they can gain a better reputation. This portrayal of unethical practice is what aggravates me the most, and is what makes the drama wholly unrealistic.
Armed with the hands and the intuition of God, Asada comes across to me as a rather weak main character. He is a stagnant character that does not grow throughout the drama; the only possible impact any of his miraculous feats had on him were pitifully summed up in a single sentence at the last episode. I found Kato Akira and Ijyuuin to be the stronger characters, and we can actually see how their past, decisions and beliefs impact their future decisions. Why Kihara is there, I don't know - he does not provide any comic relief whatsoever.
Though the director/writer tries to inject a whole load of suspense into the proceedings, it comes across as rather boring and time-wasting - things in a hospital don't happen so lethargically and neither do doctors hang out in their offices 24/7. The operating scenes were realistic, though - one of the few plus points in this otherwise unwatchable drama. And thumbs up for the soundtrack, too.
In summary: boring and predictable script, boring characters, rather unrealistic look at medical situations. Plus points: few good characters, good soundtrack, great operation scenes.
At about episode 3 I had already decided to give this a 4 and see how it went from there. I added a point after watching Kato and Ijyuuin's character grow.
|Karei naru Spy [華麗なるスパイ]|
Not Nagase's best, but... [Rating: 6/10]
Nagase Tomoya is as outrageous as always in his latest outing, but this is definitely not his best drama. The crime/spy plots are neither interesting nor funny enough to draw you in and Kyoko Fukuda tries too hard to be cute. It had its heartfelt, sensitive moments as well as its crazy, fun ones; worth watching if only for Nagase's switching between the two extremes of exaggerated over-the-top acting and being dead serious and passionate, which he does best.
|Kimi wa Petto [きみはペット]|
Contraversial [Rating: 6/10]
Reading the reviews and the comments, I must say that this show has certainly achieved what it probably set out to do: create controversy. The whole idea of a human adopting a human pet is, after all, difficult to accept; it goes too far beyond social norms. I'm all for unconventional plotlines, but this is a tad too difficult for me to stomach. Despite wholly understanding and sympathizing with the loneliness that brought both Sumire and Momo together in this strange and uneasy relationship - I still can't accept it.
Storyline aside, the acting was very good, especially Koyuki and Matsumoto Jun, who were obviously playing two-sided characters (hard Sumire vs sensitive Sumire; Momo vs Takeshi). But it was really the dancing that did it for me - it was breathtaking watching MatsuJun leap and bound effortlessly over the screen. If only there was more of it.
Overall - it was memorable because of its unconventional storyline, but that was also its down point in my case. I found it very disturbing how a human would submit himself willingly as another human's pet, even with all the loneliness that is in him. I think it takes a different sort of person to throughly enjoy this series.
|Last Friends [ラスト・フレンズ]|
Enjoyable [Rating: 8/10]
Ueno Juri steals the show with an excellent performance as the gender-confused Ruka, and easily outshines the lead character Michiru, played by Nagasawa Masami. Eita performs well as the sweet and sensitive Takeru with an aversion to sex, and Nishikido Ryou - terrifying, yet incredibly persuasive and endearing as Sousuke. I wished there was a bigger part for Eri and Ogurin in the show, however their story seemed to move along at a snail's pace with little development - and suddenly it had ended.
The storyline moves seamlessly between the present and the past and back to the present. Sometimes things characters do seem to make little sense, and there's always that 'overheard conversation/meeting coincidence' which gets on my nerves, but I liked the way it dealt with the controversial issues that no one likes to discuss yet are so prevalent in society nowadays.
Utada's 'Prisoner of Love' is a great song for this drama, though I hardly paid attention to the rest of the soundtrack except for the piano version of the theme song.
My verdict? Recommended!
|Magerarenai Onna [曲げられない女]|
Good watch [Rating: 8/10]
Kanno Miho portrays both sides of her character with brilliance; Nagasaku Hiromi is charming and endearing as Hasumi; and what a charismatic Aida Kouki Tanihara Sousuke makes! The storyline is sometimes improbable and lacks flow, but I love the idea of a strong woman and forging your own path in life. Everything wraps up a bit too neatly and sweetly in the end but I enjoyed every minute of the ten episodes on offer.
Keeps you at the edge of your seat! [Rating: 9/10]
Oh my God this HAS to be one of the most suspenseful suspense dramas I've ever watched. Each episode is gripping and keeps you at the edge of the seat, when it ends you wish you had more. Ikuta Toma and Ohno Satoshi excel as the two male leads; they outshine the rest of the cast as the whole drama revolves around them. Excellent, excellent stuff, though the ending is a bit predictable, highly recommended.
|Mukodono 2003 [ムコ殿２００３]|
Not the best, but watchable [Rating: 7/10]
Inevitably, this drama will be compared with its predecessor, the original Mukodono, but this certainly isn't a sequel to it - in fact, it seems to be more of a remake than anything else. The characters have totally changed, with the exception of the star, Sakuraba Yuuchiro. With a bigger budget than what was had with Mukodono, Sakuraba Yuuichiro returns, and this time, he's not just a superstar - he's a megastar! Despite the glitz and the glam, and the good cast, the drama is rather weak.
My first complaint: there is hardly any chemistry between Minami and Yuuichiro. The whole courtship from the time they met to him proposing to her was a rushed and botched job; there were no emotions between them, only script.
Second: stupid gags aren't comedy and are not fun. It's just lame and stupid.
So why a 7? (Surely because I'm a Tomoya-fan.) Well, I thought the acting was really rather good, despite the roles and the script they were given. Once again, Nagase overacts to a endearing, lovable degree - and that's what I love about him. The two older female leads were excellent in their respective roles. Shinohara Ryoko once again was in her element; I wished she had been given a bigger role for all her talent.
Not to mention 'Omae yanai to akannen' is a rather sweet song to listen to.
Overall, it was watchable, but not particularly re-watchable. I loved the cast and the acting, but the storyline was generally weak and sometimes unbelievable. Despite its flaws, I still managed to sit through all episodes without once rolling my eyes or walking away, so - a seven.
|My Boss, My Hero [マイボスマイヒロ]|
Absolutely the best! [Rating: 10/10]
I am embarrassed to count how many times I have watched this drama. It is just so, absolutely, brilliantly, excellent - words are failing me at this point. Nagase Tomoya is no doubt one of the most brilliant actors I have ever seen. I have no doubt that he is the Japanese equivalent of Johnny Depp when it comes to overacting, and pulling it off as excellent acting. I don't think anyone else could've played Sakaki Makio the way Nagase did.
The supporting cast did well, and the chemistry between the classmates of Class 3-A was excellent. I didn't really get the hints of possibly love between Sakaki and Minami, but I'll let that pass as a little bit of silliness in the show - which, at some points, can get rather endearingly silly. Of course, this is balanced by heartwarming scenes aiming to get the show's message across that 'school is great!' But it doesn't get overly preachy.
Definitely one of the best dramas in 2006 - no, in like, forever!! I thoroughly believe Nagase should've won a Best Actor award for this; he has totally surpassed himself. Watch it, again and again and again and again. I swear you'll never get bored of it. I still haven't.
|Nobuta wo Produce [野ブタ。をプロデュース]|
I laughed out loud 5 times and cried once [Rating: 9/10]
I was unimpressed with the first episode. So unimpressed I wanted to cry for the time I had wasted. I couldn't understand why people said this was one of the best they'd ever watched.
Perhaps I laid my judgment too soon.
This IS one of the best I've ever watched, and I haven't been watching many good dramas lately. From the second episode onwards, the series drew me in. The storyline was simple and very, very sincere, and I loved the fact that it wasn't over-dramatized or trying too hard to impress.
The chemistry between the three leads was particularly impressive. I'm not a big fan either of them, but they did a very good job of it. I can't think of anyone else who could be Shuji, Akira or Nobuta, that was how good they were. I particularly enjoyed Yamashita's quirky portrayal of Akira. Thumbs up. Two thumbs up.
The side characters were perhaps, a little underdeveloped, especially Bando who seemed to be the main antagonist - right up until about, episode 3 or 4, and then disappeared from the face of the earth - but this show IS Shuji, Akira and Nobuta.
I've probably repeated this word many times, but I'll just repeat it again - this drama was IMPRESSIVE. So much so, for the first time in my history of watching J-dramas, I wish there was more to come. Ten episodes of a good thing isn't enough.
|Nodame Cantabile [のだめ カンタビ−レ]|
Excellent [Rating: 9/10]
While I agree the title can be a bit misleading, as the story seems to revolve more around Shinichi - and hence Shinichi's character develops more than Nodame's - who cares about the title when this is one of the best dramas ever to be produced? Ueno Juri and Hiroshi Tamaki excel in their roles as Nodame and Chiaki Shinichi respectively; the rest of the supporting cast do well in their roles as well. Humour can get a little exaggerated at times and Stressman puts me off because he's both creepy and perverted (but let's give him the kudos for good acting), but this is still a must watch. I have never loved classical music so much before.
|Orange Days [オレンジデイズ]|
A MUST watch [Rating: 10/10]
One of the dramas I will remember for a very long time. A fantastic drama about the transition stage between being a student and going out into the working world, about friendship, love, disabilities, dreams and hope. Not a big fan of Shibasaki, but I was very impressed with her portrayal of the deaf Sae.
Interesting premise but very poor execution [Rating: 2/10]
I thought that the idea of a guy who loves girly stuff but has to try to hide it behind a manly facade would make an interesting drama, but Otomen falls flat on its face. The acting is atrocious, the storyline is ridiculous and tries too hard to be funny. Absolutely give this a miss.
Skip it [Rating: 4/10]
Terrible acting from Fukuda Kyoko, repetitive stupid and mindless comedy sequences, absolutely ZERO character development (OK, for Himuro's part, maybe about 5 percent), cheesy ending. Cases were relatively interesting, but give this a miss if you're a fan of police dramas. Only watch it if you're a huge fan of the actors.
|Samurai High School [サムライ・ハイスクール]|
Enjoyed every minute! [Rating: 9/10]
Totally enjoyed every minute of it. Miura Haruma is absolutely hapless as Mochizuki Kotaro, yet so stern and demanding as Mochizuki Kotaro samurai; he is truly one of the best actors of his generation. The rest of the cast are excellent as well; I was surprised at the choice of Shirota Yuu (Nakamura) but liked the contrast he gave his character: cool-looking guy but absolutely colourless, then growing into a strong character out of sheer loyalty to his friend. The story was sometimes a bit too fantastic, but it always had its comedic, heartwarming and exciting moments. The fighting scenes are beautifully choreographed. 9 episodes was a bit too short for my liking; yet I don't think they could have done anymore with the story. A definite must-watch!
|Sekai no chuushin de, ai wo sakebu [世界の中心で、愛をさけぶ]|
Thumbs UP! [Rating: 10/10]
Great in all aspects - directing, soundtrack, cast, storyline, and especially acting. Yamada and Ayase gave possibly the best performances I have ever watched in any drama. Highly recommended!
Watchable [Rating: 7/10]
It was slick and stylish - and lacking a definitive, good plot. In the end, there were too many loose ends left untied and many characters left undeveloped. I did love the camera angles and the throbbing soundtrack, but if you're looking for a good storyline with interesting characters, it might be well worth it to skip this one.
|Sunao ni Narenakute [素直になれなくて]|
Not worth it [Rating: 5/10]
Great on-screen chemistry between Eita and Ueno Juri, good acting from the cast but overall it's a fail. The plot develops slowly, serves only to bore you to death and ends with nothing, the subplots are pointless and the characters lack any sort of character. Skip this, it isn't worth the time.
|Taisetsu na Koto wa Subete Kimi ga Oshiete Kureta [大切なことはすべて君が教えてくれた]|
So-so [Rating: 6/10]
The drama has a meaningful message to convey, and its storyline is told through the eyes of three very flawed people. It is precisely the weaknesses of these characters that forces them into situations where they have to overcome them for their relationships and for their futures that makes this story work; unfortunately it made them quite difficult for me to like. Takei Emi plays her part with passion; Toda Erika puts out a solid performance, the rest of the supporting cast were great (especially the younger cast who make up Kashiwagi's class) but Miura Haruma himself was rather a bore. The drama starts off rather too slowly but the ending wrapped up nicely; I was rooting for ShujixNatsumi throughout so it was perfect for me.
|Tiger & Dragon [タイガー＆ドラゴン]|
Endless bag of laughs [Rating: 9/10]
I have been trying so hard to promote this drama to friends and family, but they just don't get my taste. Well, it is an unconventional drama with an unconventional storyline. That's why Tiger and Dragon has to be one of the best dramas. It's in a league of its own.
Nagase Tomoya again excels in his role, and the chemistry between him and Okada is electric. But they don't stand out as the leads - no, everyone is equally great and each and every character has their own little quirk which makes them all special. You remember all of them, and I believe that's a mark of great storytelling - when all the characters play their significant roles in their story and are all of equal importance, and thus, remembered.
I love the opening theme; it's still stuck in my head till now (I watched this in mid-2007) and I still laugh when I hear it.
One limitation, however, is that I watched an English subtitled version. I believe it would have meant much, much more if I had understood Japanese puns and Japanese culture more thoroughly. Still, a rakugo in a rakugo in a rakugo would certainly get even a foreigner like me interested in finding out more about the ancient art of rakugo.
This is a definite must-watch!
A Must Watch! [Rating: 9/10]
Gripping storyline that keeps you interested and excellent acting. The little girl is amazing; Shinohara Ryoko once again does what she does best - acting the tough woman, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Abe Sadao play a serious character because I've only ever watched him do comedy. The twists in the plot flow with the story and don't come across as forced as they sometimes do in suspense dramas; some ends left untied but that's acceptable as a long explanation of how, who, when and why would just drag down the story (plus one never ever knows the whole truth). Didn't get the point of the nudity and I found it hard to agree with Yukihira's sense of justice which was to shoot down criminals with little explanation, but the ending in its own way did sort of bring to light that what Yukihira had done was perhaps wrong. And it does make you think about the unfairness of the world and the unfairness of the justice system and people passing down judgment and punishment upon others.
In a class of its own [Rating: 8/10]
What was interesting about this drama was that it was so different; from the setting right down to the speech patterns of the characters. Once again, Nagase portrays a rather outrageous character, and does it well. There is plenty of chemistry between him and the lead actress, Aibu Saki - who was brilliant as the stubborn, tough but at times, sensitive Suzu. Not only that, I loved the interaction between all the characters in the drama. There were none that didn't leave their mark on you; none that you couldn't sympathize with or care for. And I certainly applaud all the actors for learning how to speak in that odd Tosa dialect.
The storyline starts of as a simple story of blossoming love between Taro and Suzu, but certainly gets more complicated when it reaches its climax. I couldn't help but rooting for BOTH Suzu and Miwako, but in the end, Taro can only be with one, and I'm glad he chose whom he chose in the end, though it was bittersweet. But certainly, very powerful.
I can't for life understand why it received such low ratings - possibly due to its late broadcast time.
|Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge [ヤマトナデシコ七変化]|
Difficult watch... [Rating: 6/10]
Typical shoujo fanfare with the weird girl, good-looking guys (supposedly, though Uchi Hiroki is some eye-candy), ghosts, best friends with a vengeance, hordes of screaming fangirls, family problems, childhood complexes and the message that love prevails over everything else. Listless storyline, predictable ending, and annoying characters make this drama a difficult watch. The acting is generally poor except for the older cast (Osugi Ren and Takashima Reiko) and Oomasa Aya. The real star of the show here is little Kato Seishiro, who at such a young age already proves himself to be one of the actors to watch out for.
|Yankee-kun to Megane-chan [ヤンキー君とメガネちゃん]|
Light viewing [Rating: 6/10]
Narimiya Hiroki may be too old to play a high-schooler, but somehow he still fits quite nicely in the role. Naka Riisa tends to overact in a rather irritating sort of manner; Hongo Kanata just can't act. The storyline is quite formulaic - problem, Shinagawa and Adachi try to solve it, problem solved, everyone is happy - but I like the ending which leaves Adachi's reply to Shinagawa's confession open. This drama's nice for light viewing; expect nothing too brilliant.
|Yuukan kurabu [有閑倶楽部]|
Can't be Taken Too Seriously [Rating: 7/10]
I was put off in the first episode because it seemed too silly for words. 6 high-school kids versus gangs of evil men who are as brainless as the bunch of Japanese policemen sent after them; sounds impossible - but of course, the Yukan Club motto is 'To make the impossible, possible'. I persevered through the second and third episodes before I made my decision whether or not to continue bothering - and fortunately, I decided to go on with the show, because it does grow on you after a while. So what of the silliness and inherent stupidity and impossibility of it all. It's fun, exciting, sometimes downright scary, weird and idiotic. You can't take the storyline too seriously; you have to just go with the flow to really enjoy it.
The acting is so-so, and none of the six really stand out, though I was impressed by Taguchi Junnosuke's performance (this is the first time I've watched his drama). I loved Kage Takeshi's portrayal of the weird and wonderful Shochikubai Tokimune, and his comedic partnership with Kataoka Tsurutaro (Kenbishi Mansaku) is so funny.
Fans of the young actors will watch this, I believe, but anyone else who just likes a good laugh might enjoy this too. Ten episodes is just a small dose enough for some silliness and idiocy.